Sharing is caring!

Since it’s the holidays, we’ve been practicing having conversations about abortion that you may have with your relatives in the next couple of weeks. Erika Christensen, patient advocate and co-founder of RHA Vote and Patient Forward has taken our most infuriating aunt’s and uncle’s questions and below shares how you can respond without smashing your eggnog glass and storming out of the room! Watch the full video of our live conversation from our monthly comedy show at Union Hall in Brooklyn or read the transcript below!

MOST fun to read out loud

Tipsy Aunt Karen:
I’m pro-choice but I don’t believe in being able to rip babies right from the womb like those laws they passed in New York and Virginia, that’s just too far!

Erika:
That’s…not what those laws did! When someone is born and alive, they receive the full protections of the law, and nobody, anywhere, is trying to change that.

It sounds like you care a lot about babies and I do too, so we have that in common! I care deeply about the health and well-being of mothers and babies. And so do the doctors who provide abortion care. Think about the doctors and nurses you know, does this sound like a real thing? People are trying to rile you up and get you to support nonsense.

Now, there are some very rare and heartbreaking circumstances where a baby is born who cannot live on its own, and in those situations, hospice care is offered so the family can hold the baby and grieve. Politicians are misrepresenting these situations to score political points. And that is shameful.

Tipsy Aunt Karen:
Well I’ve heard of people who get abortions at 8 months just so they can look good in their bikini on their vacation!

Erika:
First, people who are 8 months pregnant look great in bikinis. That is just facts. But the idea that the decision whether or not to bare children is often frivolous or spontaneous is pervasive and flawed. Truly, does this sound like anyone you know? And why do you think these deeply flawed ideas we have about people have managed to persist?

Religious Aunt Margaret Anne:
You know babies can feel pain at 20 weeks.

Erika:
Well, we really have no idea when a fetus could contemplate and understand pain. But the consensus of the medical community, based on scientific evidence, is that the physical structures and neural circuitry required to feel pain are not developed until much later in pregnancy. Fetal pain at 20 weeks is a myth based on junk science that’s been exploited to get you to vote for some politician. And that sucks.

But we should be concerned about pain and doing harm, right? Here’s what’s true: people who are denied a wanted abortions are worse off than people who are able to get them. They’re worse off financially, their health suffers, they’re more likely to stay in abusive relationships, even their other childrens’ well-being is impacted. Abortion restrictions hurt people. And that’s what we should be concerned about.

Religious Aunt Margaret Anne:
Well, I saw someone on TV who had a baby at 19 weeks and it survived

Erika:
I haven’t heard about that. That sounds very premature, but I am not a doctor. It sounds like the parents really wanted that pregnancy to end in a baby, and I imagine that situation was terrifying for the parents, but I am glad they were able to get care. I’m not sure what that has to do with abortion care though.

Religious Aunt Margaret Anne:
Well, lot of women regret their abortion. A lot!

Erika:
The risk of regret pervades all of medicine. People regret knee surgeries and heart surgeries as much or more than they do their abortions. And people have actually studied this: abortion has a lower risk of regret than medicine more generally. Wild right?

Often people regret the circumstances that lead to their needing medical care, including abortion care. Much less often they may even regret the decision itself and think if they could go back in time, they might make a different choice. But we owe patients the dignity of that risk. The risk of regret is not a good reason to take a safe medical choice away.

And since it sounds like you care deeply about women and their well-being, I’d like to share what we do know to be true: abortion restrictions are incredibly harmful for patients, especially those who are denied care. Denial of abortion care results in poor health outcomes and has an adverse affect on the children patients already have. Which proves what we know to be true: abortion patients are experts in our own lives.

Step Uncle Dan:
Shouldn’t they just put them up for adoption? If my mother had aborted me, I wouldn’t be alive.

Erika:
The decision whether or not to carry and birth a child and the decision whether or not to parent that child are two different decisions. That said, most people who bear children do so to raise them. In fact only 2% of babies born are placed for adoption because people so overwhelmingly want to raise their own children. Families want to stay together. Our focus should be on securing resources so that can happen.

60% of people who have abortions are already parents so abortion is often a parenting decision. People want to make sure they can take care of the children they already have before adding to their families. We don’t often talk about all of the children healthy and alive because of abortion- when women are supported to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions, children and families thrive.

Step Uncle Dan:
Well, there have been so many advances in medicine that you don’t even need to have an abortion anymore.

Erika:
Well, most people aren’t getting an abortion because of a medical issue with the pregnancy, but for those that are, I can assure you doctors offer patients treatment and care that is appropriate. If a pregnant person really wants to continue a pregnancy and anything can be done to treat a fetal indication, they’ll do that. But that’s really separate from anything to do with abortion. And I can’t imagine you or I have greater expertise in that area than the pregnant person and their medical teams and we should probably stay out of their decision making process.

Religious Aunt Margaret Anne:
Well, I read that ectopic pregnancies can be reimplanted.

Erika:
Nope. You are reading anti-choice propaganda, so maybe consider checking the source of your news. Ectopic pregnancies unequivocally can not be reimplanted. In fact the only treatment for an ectopic pregnancy is abortion care. You can ask the GOP senator in Ohio who withdrew support for his own bill after he realized he’d been given bad, dangerous information by an anti-choice lobbying group. It really speaks to a lack of knowledge within state governments about pregnancy, abortion and the human body in general. They’re not medical professionals, so they probably should not be legislating medicine based on their beliefs. Like all healthcare, abortion should only be regulated based on evidence-based recommendations from medical professionals, and only to the extent necessary to ensure patients can obtain safe treatment.